Henry Ford’s 3 recommendations to avoid lousy teamwork

“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, working together is success.”- Henry Ford

Have you ever been part of a truly great team?

If so, you know the satisfaction and fulfillment this brings!

And the positive group spirit that comes from working together on a shared goal.

Team work is also an essential business practice. The experience, knowledge and opinions of different people deliver creative ideas, effective solutions and great results. Teams help companies become more innovative and action oriented.

But teamwork is challenging. Creating teams and making them work together is a capacity that needs to be acquired.

Otherwise teamwork can become very unproductive and conflictual.

We must work simultaneously on the 3 W’s representing the different dimensions of a company:

  1. The Worker
  2. The Work, which refers to the process
  3. The Workplace, or organization.

This is how we can apply the 3 elements Henry Ford taught us in his famous quote.

Coming together is a beginning (the worker)

“If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from my own”- Henry Ford

Great teamwork starts with our people having the right communication and listening skills. These are the qualities that enable them to connect to others and understand the challenges their fellow team members are facing.

Furthermore we need a skilled team leader. He or she is not the boss, but a facilitator trying to get everyone’s point of view understood.

The leader should be capable of envisioning a positive path that people from all functions and background can refer to.

Staying together is progress (the work)

“Don’t find fault, find a remedy; anybody can complain”- Henry Ford

If staying together is progress, there must also be a process. This is obvious for a team working together and producing things.

But teams taking decisions or solving problems needs also a process. Otherwise they cannot develop what they need to produce good results :clear patterns of behavior and effective tools.

Teams with good progress stay together. In order to have progress they must improve the process.

Working together is success (the workplace)

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” — Henry Ford

The organization is the central element that keeps teamwork working. It connects the objectives and outcomes of different teams in one strategical plan.

Research published in Harvard Business Review has indicated the following 5 elements that create successful teams and make everyone move forward together:

  1. Give the team the power to make decisions
  2. Share clearly defined team objectives
  3. Promote efficient team meetings, for example by using a Team Meeting Checklist
  4. Make individual progress visible to the whole team
  5. Make it fun by melting the ice.

Different areas influence each other

“We boast independence. There is no such thing. There is only interdependence” — Henry Ford

Successful teamwork is based on the interdependence that exists between the three dimensions of a company: the people, the processes and the organization.

This means that an improvement in one area, for example the process aspect of teamwork, also has a positive effect on the people and the organization.

It also means we must work simultaneously on all three areas. Otherwise the result will be inferior and not sustainable.


“What is desirable and right in life is never impossible… it takes only a little more teamwork.”- Henry Ford

Henry Ford has changed the way of life for many people with his vision to make owning a car both practical and affordable.

The moving assembly line and mass production techniques that he developed set the standard for worldwide industrial practice in the first half of the 20th Century.

But his longest lasting heritage are his values and his vision on business, quality, perseverance and team work. It is an invaluable source of inspiration.

Do you want to find out more?

Read this previous article to discover more on performance improvement and how people, processes and the organization influence each other.

Thinking about new ways to create competitive advantage and improve your organization? This PDF describes the 4 pillars that increase enterprise performance and helps you to apply them in your company.

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